Garden Summer Camp 2015

Garden Summer Camp – 2015

Our Garden Bees

Bees to Live By 

This past summer, I had the honor and privilege to be part of the teaching team for the Gardens Summer Camp in Las Vegas, Nevada, a camp centered on Permaculture.  This camp was a first of its kind offered at an elementary school in Clark County.  Crestwood Elementary School was selected for this project for a number of reasons.  This past year, the school garden at Crestwood has been successful with teacher/student involvement. The student garden club was active under the guidance of one teacher, in particular, Juliana Urtubey.  Juliana was part of the teacher cadre that wrote the book,  The Outdoor Garden Classroom, a resource for Clark County School District teachers.  Also part of the Gardens Summer Camp was Jessica Penrod. Jessica is a fellow permaculture teacher trainer, co-author of The Outdoor Classroom, and partner in other permaculture educational endeavors.  Marissa Gates, is another teacher that attended permaculture teacher training with Jessica and myself last summer.  She developed ‘Permacognition’, an educational program that combines permaculture design techniques with metacognition strategies.  A large part of the summer camp lessons were based on Permacognition.  Two other Crestwood teachers were involved with summer camp as well.  Although they had no formal permaculture training, they were familiar with it and very interested to learn more while being a part of this program. Our resident chef was Enrique Garcia, works with Garden Farms and a member of Great Basin Permaculture.

This three-week summer camp was centered around permaculture design, ethics, and principles.  A first for this area!  The students ranged from 3rd to 5th grade; however, we did have a couple of 2nd graders due to their enthusiasm and knowledge of the garden.  Each student wanting to attend the camp had to fill out an application stating the reason(s) they should be considered for this program, what their vision was for the garden, and how they could contribute to the overall program.  They also had to commit to attending the entire three weeks of camp.  The students’ parents were invited to an open house to hear the overview of the camp and all that it would entail.  This also was an indicator of the level of commitment the student and family would have for this program.  Many of the parents asked questions during this open house.  We all could see that they, too, were excited about this project.  What a refreshing thing to experience, students and parents enthusiastic about an educational program!

After reviewing all the applications, 40 students were chosen for the first ever garden summer camp using the principles of permaculture.  


Group Photo 2

What a Group

Crestwood Elementary School:

  • Title 1 school
  • An established school garden, with approximately 3-4 teachers that use it on a regular basis.
  • Green Our Planet, a non-profit, provided the funds to have the garden initially built. They also provided the funds for the Garden Summer Camp through grant monies.

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General Outline of the Camp:

  • Held for three weeks:  June 8 through June 26 (the school was still open during those dates).
  • Hours:  7:30-12:30
  • Summer Camp Lessons:
    • Based on principles of Permaculture
    • Used the 5-E technique of instruction:
      • Engage
      • Explore
      • Explain
      • Elaborate
      • Evaluate
  • Daily Schedule:
    • 7:30-8:00:  Morning Meeting/Breakfast
      • During this time there would be morning circle:
        • Best of Yesterday
        • Introduce a Permaculture Principle for the day
        • A song/story/activity that would emphasize the Permaculture Principle 
    • 8:00-9:00:  Gardening/Science Workshop
    • 9:00-9:45:  Art Workshop
    • 9:45-10:00:  Food Prep (1/2 of the students would be involved in this while the other 1/2 would do a movement/team building activity)
    • 10:15-11:15:  Permacognition (Groups select to be part of a team project to be developed and presented during an Open House with parents/sponsors)
    • 11:15-12:00:  Lunch
    • 12:00-12:20:  Clean-up and Project time
    • 12:20-12:30: Closing Activity (reinforce the principle of the day)
  • All lessons and activities are integrated with Permaculuture

Summary and Thoughts:

Not only did we have a wonderful group of students for this camp, we had amazing parents for this adventure, too.  Many of the parents were here every day helping in any/every way needed.  Several of the parents spent the majority of their days creating beautiful murals for the school that reflected the garden as well as life in the Mojave Desert.  We also had young teen volunteers that offered more than extra hands, they added such value to the summer camp.  This was definitely a community affair.  A BIG thank you to all!  

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This is exciting!  This is something I’ve been thinking/dreaming about for quite some time.  Stay tuned for what grows…………

Ladybug in Hand

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